This summer has been unforgettable in many different ways for me. It was my first time working in a virtual environment as in the past summers, I have always worked in person either alone or with other people whether it’d be at the library or summer camps or at festivals. To be spending all summer indoors on a laptop on zoom, whatsapp, and teams was a new experience for me, but I have to say that it was very enjoyable thanks to the great people that I have met along the way. I wanted to reflect and point out the specific parts of the internship that made it so enjoyable for me and really feel grateful for.
- My Team
I think that I was super duper lucky in being paired with some of the most hardworking and bright people that I have met through undergrad. Alex and Gurleen brought so much enthusiasm and knowledge to the table at every meeting that I felt very supported and confident in our work. It was super easy to get to know them and communicate my struggles whenever they came up as they were very understanding and just the kindest souls. Zoom meetings are draining for everyone and can be annoying at times due to technology and other mishaps, but with these two, they were just so easy. One thing that I noticed about my small team was that they were very responsive, no matter what I said. Whether the idea was something small or something actually of importance, they always acknowledged and reiterated their stance. I found this super important in noticing hidden points that I have missed and just feeling seen and noticed. It is very rare to have such open ears who are there for you and are excited to hear what you have to say all summer. Thanks to these two, I have been able to complete the internship experience in this way.
- My Extended Team
The weekly intern meetings with the other interns and work study students, as well as Maria were also a blessing. Hearing about common struggles, especially at the beginning of the internship, their insights into working with their community organizations, as well as the different perspectives everyone brought each week were so refreshing. It was really nice to have such an open and friendly atmosphere where anything could be said and be met with such enthusiasm and comfort. I really think that I am going to take away these feelings and try to replicate that in any professional and personal experience in the future.
- Community Partners
Although there were many obstacles and bumps along the way, I am very grateful to have met my community partners, Nick and Delphine this summer. With Nick, his humour really shone through for me as well as his enthusiasm for the organization and the expansion of the program. Even through the microsoft teams calls, his witty comments and successful attempts to make us all laugh really drove the meetings forwards and let us become more comfortable in sharing and exchanging ideas. Delphine, calling us all the way from Tanzania, touched me with her kindness and passion. Although she is super busy with so many tasks at the University, she always made time for us and in giving us truly useful advice. I really appreciated her honesty and genuine feedback for the work that we created so that it will actually benefit the students and program in the future.
With that all being said, I am very much looking forward taking all the learnings and experiences from the summer from working with WHE, YOU, SAUT, living in Quebec to learn French, and visiting my grandparents in Korea. To think that all that has perspired in the last 4 months is kind of mind-boggling as it passed by way too fast, but here’s to learning and growing in the new school year and beyond!
As this internship has come to an end, there are a couple thoughts that I have been having throughout these past couple of weeks that I wanted to remember. I hope to come back to these thoughts and recollect myself in the future for motivation.
I think that one of the hardest things for me was to come to terms with my limitations and weaknesses and admit where I need help. As the eldest daughter of a pretty conservatively cultured household, I’ve always put a mental frame on myself to be responsible and grew up as a perfectionist. However, from this internship and many events that have happened throughout my life, I have accepted the fact that not everything will go as planned and to let things go a bit if needed. I think that I am still pretty tight in terms of my personality, however, acknowledging this and the realities of my situations throughout the summer were the first step. Communicating this with the lovely interns that I was working with, we were able to come up with realistic deadlines and shift our deliverables so that we could accomplish everything in time. Just being myself and noticing these subtleties was really important for me in being honest with the situation in front of me.
One of the toughest parts for me this summer was working virtually in new environments as I whether it was due to travelling for leisure or family emergencies. Adapting to a whole new climate as well as the different culture, climate, and all the temptations of a tourist-y destination were some of the obstacles. But, I knew that I wasn’t the only one going through such things and that everyone had their own share of struggles and difficulties. It was important to be grateful for being able to afford a plane ticket to go visit my grandparents and have the luxury to do an exchange in Quebec. Taking a step back to acknowledge my privilege and continue to work hard in the internship was very important for me. Especially in working with a small team, it was necessary to be open about what we could each accomplish and to be kind in understanding that yes, it is the summer and that there were things that we each could and could not take on. Just like the other interns were so understanding of my situation, it was foremost important for me to be thankful and grateful for their support and understanding throughout the tumultuous and spontaneous summer that I have had.
This ‘understanding’ piece extended towards working with the community partners as well. With working with community organizations, there were some occasions where there were no-shows at meetings and unanswered emails or calls, but it was nice to experience that (in a way). To take a step back and examine the root causes of why that was happening, especially when meeting with the SAUT students, gave me and the other interns a chance to work on deliverables that were most important such as creating an orientation presentation. Building the program up was something that wouldn’t have been done if we had been working on expanding the program like we originally planned.
Above all, it was really a memorable summer for me in many different ways and I have gained so much in terms of learning, both people-wise and academically. I am excited to see the different ways in which I will be able to grow with the new skills that I have equipped this summer and beyond.
Until next time,
These past 2 weeks have been a very stressful time in my life. From flight delays and airport issues to trying to maintain a work-life balance amidst summer school, I have had multiple moments where I was just overwhelmed and felt heavy anxiety! I’m still attempting to sort out the flight and luggage issues which are concerning; however, I wanted to take this blog post and share how I have been going trying to overcome it all and write it down on the blog for me to hopefully laugh back at (what can’t a little optimism cure!!!).
- The Rising Pressure
As this internship turned around at its halfway mark a week ago, there have been unseen pressure growing on my behalf regarding the projects that I have been undertaking. Due to the ever-changing nature of working with community organizations and the shifting of deliverables during the second month of the internship, I admit that I am not where I expected myself to be. However, I appreciate the flexible nature of my work and how much freedom I am granted in regard to the amount of work and the creative ways in which I can accomplish them. This personal disparity of where I expected myself to be vs. where I am currently has created this sort of positive pressure for myself to be able to finish this internship strongly, with high-quality variables that I will be proud of presenting to the community organizations.
- Feeling at a Loss
At a point in the past month, I sometimes felt like things were spinning out of proportion and that I was out of control. For instance, when I noticed that I was halfway through the internship without actually having submitted any useful deliverables for SAUT, the sense of feeling like I was no help definitely existed. Most recently, I had a severe allergic reaction to a mosquito here in Korea and even had to go to the hospital and receive medication for it (which is crazy and never would have happened in Canada). Even the rocky mountains mosquito hadn’t prepared me for the wild Korean ones, but due to the medication, I didn’t hear the alarm to wake up in time for my intern meeting with Gurleen and Alex. Because Gurleen and Alex are the nicest people on earth (can back this up 100%), they were super understanding and kind, but I felt guilty and disappointed in myself for letting the team down. Recovering from this was planning a future meeting at a time where I could actually be awake and catching up on meeting notes while doing some extra work. The feeling of helplessness was definitely present but the water had been spilt with things out of my control. Rather than stressing about it, the best way to manage myself was by looking at my short-term and long-term goals and deciding my best course of action from there instead of thinking about my mistakes. Being honest and having communication that is genuine is key to having relationships of trust, which are especially more important in remote internships.
One of the huge benefits of the internship is the remote nature of it, which I love. I have learned to block off time in my schedule in 2-3 hour chunks just to work on deliverables and have meetings, which I found super helpful. This way, the rest of my time could go to hanging out with friends and family, eating, and seeing what Seoul has to offer. It is definitely challenging from the fact that I have to be focused and efficient during the time chunk, but I do love the feeling of satisfaction I receive after a day of hard work.
That was really nice to just rant about some of the thoughts I have been feeling as of late, and I hope that the rest of the internship will be as smooth-sailing as it has been in the last couple of weeks.
Until next time,
Yesterday (July 8, 2022) was a first in terms of many. First, waking up to no service and internet was a whole different experience. It made me realize that I really couldn’t do anything without internet or cellular access which made me feel a sense of helplessness which I hadn’t felt before. It allowed me to take a step back and focus on other things that I should have been doing such as exercising, making food with my family, and doing house chores. It was a good unintended break for me to be offline and recuperate from the week. Although it was a wake-up call for me to back things up on my computer to work on offline and to be prepared for these emergencies, it gave me a chance for self-reflection as well. It also made me become more motivated and to try to finish work earlier, ie. Posting the blog earlier. Hopefully, I will be able to do this for next time!
The highlight of the internship so far has definitely been being able to connect with the local youth- whether it’d be in London or with the students at St. Augustine University of Tanzania. Having had minimal chances to interact with youth in the community during university and previous summer jobs, just being able to communicate, hear their thoughts and problems that they have, and relate to them has been refreshing as well. I really enjoyed how both of my projects involve direct communication and feedback with the youth as I don’t think I’d be able to experience this kind of relationship elsewhere. Being able to give a presentation and receive feedback in real-time was a cool experience and I am looking forward to future interactions with the youth with the deliverables that I will be creating from now until the end of the internship.
I have also never created such detailed educational materials before, other than infographics, videos, and posters, so I’m looking forward to this new world of handbooks and manuals for youth volunteers and students. I have had a lot of volunteer training experience with being involved in high school and university with a variety of organizations from museums, libraries, festivals, community centres, non-profits, and hospitals. With this, I want to be able to incorporate these training sessions and my experiences in creating a guide for youth that would help them in fitting into the programs while getting the most out of the educational aspect of them.
Something that I want to focus on for the latter half of the work term is to continue to be motivated with the work and to achieve the goals that I had planned out in the beginning. As it is nearing the end, the quality and amount of deliverables is only going to increase as well as other things as I will be preparing for the last year of undergrad. I have auditions coming up for band so practicing my clarinet, keeping up with summer school, working, as well as packing for my upcoming trip to Korea is at the front of my mind and I’m very excited to pursue all of these things while maintaining my mental and physical health.
Until next time,
The past two weeks working with both community partners that I have been assigned to- SAUT and YOU have definitely been the most tumultuous weeks yet in terms of changes (thankfully not for challenges!). There has been a great shift in the deliverables, mindsets, and tasks that I have been in charge of that has definitely hit some sort of a reset button- but in a good way !
I have been really thankful for my team of interns- Gurleen and Alex. They have really been the motivating factors for me in this mostly individual and liberal internship where I have been at the reins in dictating what I would be working on for the week. Thanks to the new deliverables in which a lot of small teamwork and communication was needed, it was really nice to work on everything together with honest feedback, positive encouragements, and most of all, progress!!
On the other hand, I had the chance to go see Dr. Jane Goodall last week which really made me do a lot of self-reflexivity. Coincidentally, she was also in Tanzania when she first began her work which made me think back to my internship with SAUT (also being in Tanzania). She focused on the human-environment nature of all processes which I found striking. The environment, the earth, and ultimately health is what really connects us all as part of the fundamental human experience. Through storytelling and reaching the hearts of those at whomst she was able to convince in whichever cause that she was focusing on, she was able to develop her organization and accomplish the many things that she has done up till her career now. Listening to such an incredible human being talk about her life and way of thinking, allowed me to take some of that and place it into my life. The whole evening was a gentle reminder for me to refocus on the aims of the internship which is to ultimately aid in this human-environment-health connection in both SAUT and YOU and put my strengths and talents to paint a story for the next interns, participants, and stakeholders of both organizations.
I’m really looking forward to next week to see what the interns and I will have accomplished with our newly assigned tasks and deliverables as well as hanging out with friends and family for Canada day. I’m finally back in Calgary from my French immersion at Laval University in Quebec which was amazing and good for my brain to do some trilingual mix-matching (haha). I will surely treasure the cultural experiences that I have gained from being in a different province which really seemed like a different country, the Quebecois mindset, the historic symbolism of Canada, and the amazing people that I have met along the way. I have loved being able to connect the experiences in Quebec to my internship such as talking/texting in French with Elias, who is a student I’m working with!
A small life update is that I’m going to be in Korea for the majority of July and a part of August to visit my grandparents and help my grandma in taking care of my grandpa. She’s already begun making plans to hang out with her friends who she hadn’t been able to see since the pandemic and my grandpa’s surgeries this year, so I’m really excited for her and to see my grandpa! I’ll be trying to balance my summer courses, the internship, as well as researching safe & fun things to do with my grandparents indoors or near the hospital. Like everything, I’m sure that the next month and a half will bring its own set of challenges and obstacles, but I’m wholly optimistic and excited for all that’s to come 😊
I can’t believe that it’s already July and that we’re 1/3 past the internship. Time really does fly.
This week, I really felt the dire importance of time management and doing it well. Since I am trying to do this internship while balancing school, it has been very difficult to balance everything especially when I felt really lost and confused on what to do for the internship. Especially for the past 2 weeks, I felt like I have wasted time researching things that wouldn’t even be possible because of simply just not fully understanding what was happening during the internship.
In order to combat this, the following things had to be done and accomplished this week before the internship progressed even more!
- Meetings, meetings, and more meetings!
It has been a busy busy busy week in terms of Zoom meetings and WhatsApp calls! I think that I have been meeting my fellow interns in the SAUT and YOU team almost every day in the past 2 weeks! This healthy communication and little community that we have made for ourselves has been super helpful and supportive in terms of my weird availabilities and interesting meetings with SAUT team. Addressing challenges with Maria and Bob, Gurleen and Alex, Rita and Ana, and simultaneously and in different combinations has given me so many different ideas, advice, and pieces of knowledge that I have been so grateful for. Something that I have taken from all the meetings this week is to really change my perspective on what the deliverables of the project actually is. Would it be to actually create a new product development plan, or pointing out strategies in the Fiti program that would eliminate obstacles so that new product development would be possible in the future. I have learned to be okay with being stood up at meetings which has sadly become kind of normal in terms of the SAUT side, but it has also been super enjoyable and fun whenever I have gotten to meet with the students and exchange ideas, research, and be able to converse with them since they are also very interested about the project too! I hope to be able to bounce back from these meetings with increased enthusiasm and passion to engage the students and convince myself that I can do this !!
- Creating a strict schedule
As a result of me being a master at endlessly sitting in front of my computer for hours without actually getting anything done, it has been imperative for me to set a strict schedule. In the internship agreement, it says that around 15-25 hours of work is expected per week and so I have blocked off times specifically to work on the internship. I have been doing pretty well on sticking by the times, other than external forces that I wasn’t able to control such as meeting participants not showing up, prolonged meetings, and other emergencies. I hope to be able to do better in managing my time throughout the summer and find hours, places, and settings at which I will be able to be most productive as I move back home next week. I have also grown a sentiment to appreciate my time and to not waste it. For instance, I have been trying to spend any spare hour either working on myself ie. Jogging, cooking, reading and really utilizing my work time to the full. If I wasn’t able to get something done during the work session, of course, I would spend more time but to first have an understanding of the value of my own time is something that I haven’t felt before about myself.
- Not being harsh on myself
I’m not going to lie, this past week has been extremely difficult for me in terms of personal life. My grandpa has gotten readmitted into the hospital since getting discharged in early May, so a possibility of a visit to Korea has suddenly come up to the horizon. As a result of growing up with my grandparents when I was little, I have always found that I have been comfortable with my grandparents, sometimes calling them even more than my own parents. I also am currently in Québec City learning French with the Explore program, so when this ends on the 18th, I will be flying back to Calgary to see my family and to figure out who will visit my grandparents and more… It’s also my first time going back since last summer so I’m so excited to be with my family and hometown friends again, but I’m sure it’ll come with its own challenges (living with my teenage brother again haha..)
It will definitely be a challenging few months for me but I am optimistic that everything will end up being okay. I’m also gaining an increased gratitude for this little blog space that I call mine, I have forgotten how important and useful journaling could be for my mental health and I hope to continue it, even when this internship is over. I’m going to videocall my grandparents now, until the next blog post!
I’m so excited to digest what has gone down during the first week of the internship through this blog post. It’s been quite a challenge trying to balance everything that has been going on in my life along with this internship, other schoolwork, as well as just life in general but it’s been nothing but fun so far!
Starting off even before the internship period started, there was a meeting scheduled with the St. Augustine University of Tanzania partners and other students. Unfortunately, it was created the day before the meeting so I was on a train back home at the time. It’s really funny how when things get busy in life, everything just happens at once (haha).
At first, I thought that it was going to be a zoom meeting, but the internet connection both on the train and in Tanzania was weak. It was very interesting to download and create a WhatsApp account in the span of 20 minutes but it was done while trying to get off the train which arrived at 9:30 and just conveniently happened to be in the middle of the meeting that started at 9AM…
From this first initial meeting, I really learned to be prepared with multiple ways of contact, whether it’d be with an additional battery to charge my phone, a laptop in case WhatsApp was going to be used, steady internet or data access, as well as just staying calm and competent throughout all the challenges. It was also very humbling for me to not appreciate the vast area of internet connection and service area throughout the train ride (although it didn’t work well underground). Unsteady internet access being common in Tanzania also made me feel even more grateful for the internet and the services that I get to utilize at the tips of my fingertips.
This meeting was also where I was introduced to the students that I was going to be working with as well as a specific duty -> new product development!
Meeting with YOU
Next, it was time to meet the second organization that I was going to be working with, Youth Opportunities Unlimited. At this meeting, I was able to really get a sense of what the organization did in the community of London and the progress of their Fiti yogurt program. It was really cool to be able to converse with an actual individual who was so involved in the local youth and social supports that aid them. I really liked connecting with Rita as well, who reached out to me after as she was also working on new recipe development and nutritional analysis, which has some parts that overlap with my research in new product development.
Meeting with students
After the initial meetings, it was time to connect with the students at St. Augustine University via WhatsApp. It is kind of difficult to get a hold of both students as there is a sparse internet connection and live in very different time zones. At the end of this week, we managed to get everyone connected to a Google Drive where we will be putting all our information and research together next week. We hope to have a short-term work plan and schedule finalized so that tasks could be given to each person.
We have also created a biweekly meeting schedule for the 3 of us – Gurleen, Alex, and myself- to go over the SAUT project and our progress. During this time, we hope to exchange information with one another, talk about difficulties and successes, as well as motivate each other!
During the internship, there are also cool Swahili lessons for interns to attend. With the help of an amazing teacher, it was really fun and challenging to learn so many words and phrases in an hour session, but I really hope with review and practice that the language sticks with me – and that I could use it during the next student meeting!
I look forward to the coming weeks and sharing my experiences throughout the rest of the months. Asante! 😊